So you’re going to want to work abroad, right? (Moving Abroad Pt 4)

(My) Expat Guide to a Happy Transition (beta v 1.2)

Part four of 10 ( + 2) bits of advice on how to survive the transition to life abroad without losing your friggen mind.

So now you’ve made the decision. You’re going for it and heading overseas without a job. But you’re not worried because you’re a rock star and you’re sure to find something, right? Well, maybe. But if you’re not in the right profession and you can’t speak the language, it won’t be your English skills so much as your patience and perseverance that will get you there.

4. Be patient, network, and make good use of your downtime by learning some language.

If you’re moving yourself abroad a bit of patience and determination is needed in looking for a job. In general, having an international background can be an edge for some companies, depending on their focus, but being an English speaker does not roll out the red carpet. Unless you’re being recruited or you’re lucky enough that the company of your spouse will try and employ you, getting an interview before you arrive is pretty tough. Hiring foreigners is  a pain in the ass for employers; interviewing foreigners from abroad is something few will bother to do unless you really are a rock star of some magnitude.

Most likely then your plan is to start looking once you’ve arrived. My advice here is not to just send out resumes and wait. Network. Get out there and meet people, interact, learn the language and get a feel for the culture. You’re going to want to be shy. Don’t be. A body in motion is a more attractive hire than a butt sitting at home. And you have some time to kill.

All of my employment happened through contacts I built up over the years. The best ones stem from an internship I did at a PR firm, which I did just to improve my German and get myself out of the apartment and back into the workforce. But first I spent some time learning the language.

You will need to do this.

I suggest killing two birds by enrolling in a language school frequented by expat workers from larger companies. You should also join professional and expat groups where you can network. If you don’t think you’ll have enough time to make language school worth the investment, consider this: depending on your level, the hiring process can take upwards of 3 – 6 months in the best economic conditions; it is slower than in the US so you shouldn’t allow it to frustrate you too much.

Make that wait time work for you and come prepared for the wait, both emotionally and financially.

The importance of patience can’t be over emphasized. And if you’re in an international couple moving from your familiar home turf to your spouse’s, there’s another area where you’re going to need keep your patience and your perspective… Coming up: Watch your pants, the power may be shifting a little.


4 responses to “So you’re going to want to work abroad, right? (Moving Abroad Pt 4)

  1. Hi Megan, I just found your blog, and this advice on making the transition to a life in a foreign country. I moved to France to be with my French partner just over two years ago. I didn’t follow any of your excellent advice, and so far it has been a disaster – I think I did in fact lose my mind at one point. I love your comment about how, from being a more-than-competent human being, you move to doing everything wrong. It’s a killer for your confidence. For anyone thinking about moving to a foreign country, or in the process – read Megans’s stuff, she really knows what she’s talking about! I’m looking forward to reading the next 6 (+2) installements :0)

  2. Hi Elaine, thanks for your comment, I’m happy you found it interesting, perhaps even helpful. There’s quite a few of us out there who share your experience and agree: it isn’t easy, it’s definitely not boring but it can get frustrating sometimes.
    Let’s see what you think of the rest of my advice on this (coming soon), in the meantime you should click through my “out’n’about” blogroll list (which I need to update), you might find some other expat experiences resonate as well.

    Helps to know you’re not alone though, doesn’t it?

  3. Pingback: Use Your Good Words (Moving Abroad Pt 7) « Still here, Still foreign

  4. Megan, that is awesome. I will send that to my boyfriend 🙂 It’s so good to read about your experiences !!!

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